Facebook's Zuckerberg Discusses API Stability in F8 Keynote

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke about “Facebook's family of apps” backed by a stable and secure infrastructure, then launched a new app development Platform called the “Messenger Platform” at Facebook's F8 developer conference this week in San Francisco.

Facebook's family of apps includes Messenger, Groups, WhatsApp and Instagram - as well as the core Facebook service. Zuckerberg says shifting from being a single service to a family of world class apps is the biggest shift in the company's strategy in a long time.

Stability, Privacy and Security

Zuckerberg continued Facebook's commitment to stability, privacy and security - themes he spoke about at last year's F8 conference.

API Stability

Facebook now realizes that stability is the key to operating at scale. “Move Fast and Break Things” was Facebook's mantra when it launched. “Move Fast with Stable Infra” is now the the company mantra. Stability, he says, turned out to be the key to moving fast. Facebook announced a 2 year stability guarantee on their core APIs last year, and has kept this commitment. Facebook also has kept it's commitment to fixing all major bugs within 48 hours. At this year's F8, Facebook committed to fixing 90% of reported bugs within 30 days, and will provide developers a bug tracking dashboard so they can see when the bugs giving them problems will be fixed.

Privacy and Security

Zuckerberg also emphasized privacy and security as key elements of the User Experience for Facebook and app developers. People are most willing to use services and install apps when they feel safe and in control of their experience.

Facebook Login now allows granular control over what permissions a user grants to an app they are installing. In the past, users could only choose to accept the permission or not install the app. This permissions change is an important part of the new Graph API v2. There is a simple approval process now in place where Facebook reviews what permissions your app requests – to make sure you really need them. Zuckerberg says that apps using the new version of the Graph API are requesting 50% fewer permissions than in the past, and that these new apps are seeing a 10% improvement in the rate of logins. Zuckerberg sees this as a sign that the future Graph API v2 ecosystem will be robust and healthy.

Facebook showed its commitment to security by launching ThreatExchange, a site where major companies can share information about the security threats they are experiencing. Facebook recently had a major problem with a spam attack that turned out to be hosted on another major tech company's infrastructure. One call to that company was enough to shut it down, but hopefully the exchange will automate this sharing of information. One company can't keep up on all the threats, so this partnership will make everyone safer. Microsoft, Pinterest, Netflix, Bitly, Dropbox, Yahoo!, Stripe and Tumblr were shown as the first participants.

“Facebook Family”

Calling Facebook's products the "Facebook Family" is a new message for the company.

Zuckerberg emphasize that there are many ways people want to communicated and share content outside of Facebook's core service. The Facebook Family includes the core Facebook service (1.4 B users), Messenger (600M users), Groups (700M users), WhatsApp (700M users) and Instagram (300M users).

Facebook sees a trend where people share richer and richer content with increasing frequency. This sharing started with text, is now dominated by photos, and will be mostly video in five years. Five years after that, it will be about really immersive experiences like Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), Zuckerberg predicts.

App developers provide the tools for users to create the great content and world class experiences that people want to share with the people they care about. This content will be easily shared across the Facebook Family of apps.

Better Sharing Experiences

Facebook launched a “Share Sheet” product – a unified interface for sharing content from 3rd party developer apps into the Facebook Family of apps. People want a simple, consistent way to share content from apps – as opposed to the dozens of different sharing methods that now exist across Android, iOS, desktop, and other platforms. People also do not want to be surprised by what their shared content looks like when it reaches Facebook's various services. Share Sheet allows you to preview how content will look, then pick what Facebook services the content will be shared with. Users can share to Messenger and Groups, selecting a small subset of users to receive it, in the same way that they would post content to Facebook or Instagram.

Facebook launched a major new Facebook Messenger feature. Messenger's composer now expands to show a list of apps that can be used to create content. When your friend sends you content, say a JibJab animation, you will be able to quickly launch or install JibJab's app right inline with the Messenger experience. Facebook will also suggest other apps that can be used to create content. This will be a major new driver for Facebook app installs. Zuckerberg did not mention anything about paid promotion or advertising within the new Messenger composer feature, instead saying the best apps would be featured.

Messenger Platform

Facebook launched the Messenger Platform, allowing app developers to build apps used to create content or communicate through Messenger.  These are the apps that can be featured in the new Messenger composer window. Messenger has 600 million users, and is a fast growing communication platform. Facebook created all the functionality for Messenger itself, but the the next step in their strategy is to open the platform up to 3rd party developers. Zuckerberg emphasized the market opportunity for app developers to create for the new platform. It felt a little like 2008 or 2009, with Zuckerberg selling an app development platform with a fast growing user base in the hundreds of millions!

Messenger for Business

Zuckerberg concluded with showing how the Messenger Platform can be used by businesses. He said that people want to communicate with the businesses they care about, as well as the people they care about. Messenger for Business can make a positive impact on people's lives, as everyone communicates with businesses and typically don't enjoy the experience. Essentially, Facebook's vision is for the normal ways to communicate with a business, now fragmented across email, phone and visiting a site, to all happen in Messenger itself. This will somehow be a more smooth and timely for people, if people communicate “more naturally” with businesses Messenger.

Facebook Stats

Mark highlighted some impressive numbers:

  • Hundreds of thousands of developers are building on Facebook tools
  • Facebook's developer community has doubled in the last year (across all Facebook services)
  • More than half of the developer on the Facebook community are outside of the US
  • 30+ million apps and sites have been built with or use Facebook tools .
  • 3.5 billion app installs were delivered by Facebook last year.
  • 50+ billion pieces of content were shared using Facebook and Facebook apps.
  • 3 billion videos are watched in News Feed every day
  • 8+ billion dollars has been paid to to developers in last 5 years
  • 90% of the top grossing apps on iOS and Android are integrated with Facebook

Message to Developers:

Mark thanked the 3,000 developers in attendance by saying:

“Because of all the apps and services that you are all building, the Facebook ecosystem is stronger than ever. I want to take a moment to thank you for being part of our community and choosing to work with us. You are the ones who are connecting the world, and we are really proud to serve you. ”

Be sure to read the next Social article: Despite Reports, Facebook Says Hashtag API Still Active